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9.13.2012

WHERE WERE YOU?


There are markers in time.  Things that happen that we know exactly where we were when we heard the news.  It is a moment frozen in time.  I equate it to being in an accident; though only seconds pass, time passes in a sort of slow motion yet in hyper speed.  Clearly going on within the accident, the tragedy, is our running play by play of thoughts and feelings and questions.  There is likewise a sense that though very real, it is strangely surreal. 

9/11 is one of those markers in time.  Years passage can dim the clarity or emotional impact that an event may have had but not the event itself.  Childbirth's pain though real becomes further away with age but the event is still powerful and real and lasting.  I remember the day my daughter was born 25 years ago.  I know where I was when the contractions started, the thoughts I thought as the ball got rolling to birth.  I know the weather that day, where we lived, what time of day she was born, that we stopped at a pharmacy to get a Charms Pop sucker (allowed by the Lamaze Nazis).  

Standing in my house on September 11, 2001 I was doing regular morning kinds of things.  I worked three 10 hour days, Monday/Wednesday/Friday, so Tuesdays were days I did home and errand stuff that normal everyday people do; laundry, groceries, making the bed, probably mowing the lawn, getting my daughter ready for school that day during her 8th grade year.  It was a day like many others before it.

I lived in the Eastern time zone, the same as New York City on that date in history.  So what happened that day was in real time with my clock.  At 8:46 a.m. when the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center, it was 8:46 a.m. in my world as well.  My phone rang a few short minutes before 9:00 a.m.  It was my church organist, a dear sweet soul whom I loved deeply.  She asked if I had the TV on and, if I didn't, to turn it on.  Briefly, and with urgency, she brought me up to speed with the news speculation at the time.  An eeriness entered my house as I watched in horror the events that unfolded in the minutes, hours, days and weeks to come. 

Shock has a way of paralyzing you.  It's like standing up after sitting with your legs crossed for way too long - a momentary stalling of all things firing correctly.  Like most of the rest of the country, I was glued to the television coverage for days on end.  Most shocking though was watching on camera that second plane plow into trade center tower two.  As the next couple hours progressed, and the structural integrity of both buildings became further compromised, it was horrific to see people jumping to certain death from those towers.  The chaos and fear that would have prompted choosing to die by jumping rather than the very real possibility of burning to death or being buried alive was magnified with cameras rolling.  Death is inevitable for all of us.  None of us really get a big choice in how we die, but the massive tragic loss of human life was overwhelming.

When tower two fell to rubble I felt the collective gasp of the country.  It was like watching a head on collision and not being able to do anything about it.  And, when WTC tower one fell less than an hour later, disbelief and deep painful sorrow ran sprinting for a tie in my mind and spirit.  News of the Pentagon and the downed plane in Pennsylvania completed the chilling picture of purposed killing -  of conscience harm planned, calculated and carried out against fellow humans who shared the same planet with one another.  It was just inconceivable.  I couldn't process it or wrap my mind around the evil nor the ripples into tens of thousands of lives that it affected.  Senseless.  Heartbreaking. 

We rallied to God and country during those months.  Everything in life took on a fervency, a freshness, a tenderness to others that signified our helplessness, short of God's presence, against foes bigger than us. We all slowed down, found manners, and kindness again.  That was the good part of the mayhem, the horror, the unadulterated murder of masses of human lives. 

The core of the world shifted that day.  I still remember it.

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